In mid-march, 26 leaders in the areas of research, policy and practice from Australia, Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States assembled to create an International Alliance to End Homelessness.
Addressing homelessness is now a key policy priority across much of the developed world. All levels of government, individual communities, and nongovernmental organizations across many countries have mobilized themselves around a common motivation to end homelessness.
Never before has the issue been more resonant. As nations, states, and localities make cuts to balance their budgets, social safety nets are bearing much of the blow -- at just the time when more individuals and families are relying on these services for their most basic needs. As services diminish, the likelihood that financially vulnerable people experience homelessness rises and an already persistent social problem continues to escalate during this economically precarious time. With this in mind, participants set about to establish a framework in which to move forward toward the common goal of preventing and ending homelessness.
While the public assistance systems of these countries differ considerably, the assembled leaders realized that they shared many of the same pressing concerns about homelessness in their communities.
The most significant commonality, though, was the knowledge that homelessness was a problem with a clear and concrete solution -- a solution that could be implemented with the right strategies, policies, and commitment. Representatives of the United States had the opportunity to showcase the Obama Administration's first ever national strategic plan to end homelessness, Opening Doors. Those from other nations also presented national commitments to end homelessness, such as Australia's The Road Home.
As an international partnership, this group aims to examine this complex problem with a global lens, sharing emerging research, best practices, and effective public policies that ensure that all people can find stable, permanent housing. With an eye toward evidence-based solutions and data-based practices, this international partnership will work to eliminate homelessness.
This post was co-authored by Barbara Poppe, the Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
Follow Nan Roman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/naehomelessness